Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Worth

This morning I was touched by the following passage from Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey's Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. They describe how understanding the significance of each individual cell in the human body can help us to appreciate every person's worth in the Body of Christ:

“In our rating-conscious society that ranks everything from baseball teams to 'the best chili in New York,' an attitude of relative worth can easily seep into the church of Christ. But the design of the group of people who follow Jesus should not resemble a military machine or a corporate structure. The church Jesus founded is more like a family in which the son retarded from birth has as much worth as his brother the Rhodes scholar. It is like the body, composed of cells most striking in their diversity but most effective in their mutuality.

God requires only one thing of 'cells': that each person be loyal to the Head. If each cell accepts the needs of the whole Body as the purpose of its life, then the Body will live in health. It is a brilliant stroke, the only pure egalitarianism I observe in all of society. God has endowed every person in the Body with the same capacity to respond. In Christ's Body a teacher of three-year olds has the same value as a bishop, and that teacher's work may be just as significant. A widow's dollar can equal a millionaire's annuity. Shyness, beauty, eloquence, race, sophistication—none of these matter, only loyalty to the Head, and through the Head to each other.”

This morning I also read an inspiring online article from CNN about a boy from Brownsville, Brooklyn who said that the most influential person in his life was his principal, Ms. Lopez:

In an interview with "Humans of New York" creator Brandon Stanton, this student explained how Ms. Lopez had influenced him:

"When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter." 


His principal Nadia Lopez commented:

"This is a neighborhood that doesn't necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don't call the children 'students,' we call them 'scholars.' Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff...
because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you're from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed."

I love the worth communicated in this article: that Ms. Lopez had every student in her school stand up so that she could tell each one of them that they matter. I love that the students and the staff of her school wear purple to remind them of their royal lineage, that they come from an exceptional people of great endurance who learned to overcome, and to let these students (who come from a neighborhood that has very low expectations of them) know that they are expected to succeed.

Because every life matters, doesn't it? From those considered smallest in the eyes of the world to those called the greatest, we are all the same in God's eyes. Every one has worth and value.

What do you believe about your own and others' worth and how do you communicate those beliefs through your attitudes and actions?

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